Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Wikileaks Scares Governments

It's not about the content of the leaks, but who gets to tell the story:
But then, WikiLeaks isn't about the details of the story. It's about who gets to be the storyteller.

In the traditional view (as outline by Dick Cheney), nations are sovereigns. And as sovereigns they're subject to the control of... well, nothing and nobody. At least nothing short of the forceful action of another sovereign. Think of them as a race of giants, stomping around the world, swinging swords and clubs. That they occasionally stomp across individuals isn't just forgivable, it's inconsequential. Like Li Qiming, they're more concerned about the damage to their paint jobs than the effects on the little people they run over.

The government, and conservatives in particular, are concerned about WikiLeaks because you believe them. You accept the documents coming from WikiLeaks as the unvarnished truth in a way that you would not accept the same documents if they were produced by "official sources." And for good reason. In an age where you know for certain that the view of the world you get from the government is not just filled with, but utterly dependent on "spin" (in other words, narrative) you can't be allowed to see the story without it.

...It's not that the contents of the WikiLeaks documents threatens US diplomatic efforts, it's that the existence of organizations like WikiLeaks and the increasing ability of individuals to counter "official" information threatens the ability of sovereigns to continue defining the core of their own story.

The giants have discovered that the individuals underfoot have created grappling hooks and lines. Worse, they have their own pens and paper. The sovereigns are very, very concerned about that. And what they'll do to make sure the pen stays in their over-sized hands is... anything at all.

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